Towards the end of last year, I saw a great post on social media that said saying All Lives Matter is basically like telling people on the anniversary of 9/11 that All Buildings Matter. Still, there will be people who just don’t understand (or don’t want to) why Black Lives Matter. And that’s where Caste: The Original of Our Discontents comes in. Isabel Wilkerson does an excellent job illustrating the evolution of caste throughout the decades – using examples from Indian, German, and United States history. It is amazing how soon we forget and how soon history repeats itself. For those who want or need a better understanding of the divisions of caste in our present-day country, this book is for you.
Title: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
Rating: A Necessary Read
Page Count: 395 (476 includes notes, sources, and index)
Caste seemed so daunting at the beginning; it looked and felt like a brick that was filled with dry and heavy material. But once I got the courage to tackle the first few pages, I realized how wrong I was. This book is a factual account of how casteism has evolved, but is still very present within our society. It’s an engaging read, and I learned more about the history of racism and casteism in our country in one book than in all the years I took history in school.
Wilkerson drew criticism for including some of her own experiences of casteism (and sometimes racism) throughout the book. The majority of the text relies on historical events and anecdotes from the Obama presidency, social justice movement, repeated senseless murders of black Americans, and Trump’s campaign and 2016 election victory to illustrate the discontents. At one point, she mentions Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears and the horrendous treatment of Native Americans.
Your heart may ache throughout this book, but you should still read it to gain a better understanding of the plights that those in the upper caste have so carefully avoided, yet many times inflicted, on the lower caste. This is the book we need in 2021 to prevent hatred from regaining control of the country in 2024. This is the material we need to learn and understand now so that history doesn’t continue to repeat itself.
Don’t let the size fool you – the content is both engaging and factual. This is the material you need to read – especially if you don’t understand why Black Lives Matter.